Technology 3 min read

Engineers use 3D-Printed Valves to Turn Snorkeling Masks Into Ventilators

Image courtesy of Isinnova

Image courtesy of Isinnova

The need for ventilators to treat people severely infected by COVID-19 in Italy continues to rise every day. So, Italian engineers turned snorkeling masks into ventilators using a 3D-printed valve.

Nearly a month after announcing its first COVID-19 case, Italy’s total number of infected citizens now reached over 69,000. With more than 6,800 recorded deaths, Italy’s COVID-19 mortality rate has already surpassed that of China.

Aside from the lack of facilities, the growing need for ventilators also overwhelms Italian hospitals today. So, Gardone Valtrompia Hospital’s former head physician Renato Favero came up with the idea of using snorkeling masks as ventilators.

Dr. Favero pitched his idea to the Italian engineers of the 3D-printing company Isinnova through another doctor from the Chiari Hospital. The engineers immediately took an interest in the concept.

In a blog post, they detailed how they got in touch with Dr. Favero to discuss his proposal. The team also coordinated with Decathlon, the manufacturer of Easybreath snorkeling masks, who immediately gave its permission to use its product in the project.

“We analyzed the proposal together with the inventor. We contacted in little time Decathlon, as ideator, producer, and supplier of the snorkeling Easybreath mask. The company was immediately willing to cooperate by providing the CAD drawing of the mask we had identified,” the engineers wrote.

Using 3D-Printed Valves and Snorkeling Masks to Create Ventilators

To help Dr. Favero turn his idea into reality, Isinnova’s engineers designed a valve that could replace Easybreath mask’s snorkel. For the uninitiated, a snorkel is a breathing device that allows people to stay submerged in water for longer periods.

The 3D-printed component, dubbed as the Charlotte valve, can connect the Easybreath mask to a breathing machine. Isinnova was already able to test the valve with one of its engineers at the Chiari Hospital.

The initial test proved that the Charlotte valve could turn the mask into a perfectly working ventilator for patients. The Chiari Hospital also tested the device on one of its patients successfully.

The engineers further said:

“We are reiterating that the idea is designed for healthcare facilities and wants to help in the realization of an emergency mask in the case of a full-blown difficult situation, where it is not possible to find official healthcare supplies.”

In addition, Isinnova, Dr. Favero, and all people involved in the production of the Charlotte valve also reiterated that its design is free for everyone to access, use, and 3D print. You can find all the details here.

Read More: How Fast Can We Deploy An Open-Source 3D-Printed Ventilator?

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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